I am going to tell you something I typically only share with very close friends, or drunk girls who are crying in the public restroom. This is something I know I may take some hits for, but I hope you will hear me because I ain’t wrong: If you want him to stay, you may have to leave.
First let me throw a few credentials at you before you hit the X. I teach communications, and have been studying theories on gender and communications for the better part of 12 years. Relationships are exhausting, they are time consuming, and they can be excruciating, but there are a few basic principles you can always apply. The first of which is this: if he isn’t staying faithful to you, or marrying you, or giving your relationship the priority you think it deserves: leave.
This is something women do wrong all the time and I read your Facebook posts while tearing my LulaRoe Julia dress in agony. He doesn’t come home when he says he will, he has convinced you that you are being controlling because you would like a marriage to go with your mortgage and 4 children together. He has cheated on you and swore he wouldn’t do it again, but he did, and this time you are going to really teach him a lesson. The list goes on and on, and I want you to know that my heart breaks with you. I am a woman. I’m not the type of woman who likes to “hang with the boys” either. I like to do girl things with my girlfriends in our overpriced leggings. I understand how hard it is in them streets. Put down your caramel macchiato and repeat after me: YOU HAVE TO LEAVE.
Relationships are as much about power, as they are about love. Want to know what makes people feel attracted to one another? Power. Human beings are always attracted to power, and the more power I perceive you to have, the more attractive you become. Equity theory says that relationships are most profitable, when there is an equal power dynamic between partners. Far too many of us though are giving one person all the power in the relationship, and then we are confused when we get treated as if we aren’t a priority. No one can walk over you if you don’t lay down first.
If he cheats and you stay, and he cheats, and you stay, and he cheats some more, and you are pissed, and angry, and sad, but you still stay, what do you think you are telling him about your share of power in the relationship? You may as well tattoo his name on your forehead because he owns you. Not only are you hurting yourself, you are only making yourself less attractive to them in the meantime. Every human being in a committed relationship should have a line that their partner knows cannot be crossed. When we set up boundaries and people know we aren’t bluffing, they are far more likely to keep themselves in check. If someone crosses the line, they made the decision for you. They crossed the line they knew would bring destruction. You are leaving because they didn’t give you any other choice.
By the way in order to leave, you have to be absent. You can’t break up, but then keep seeing him, texting him, and answering his phone calls. My darling, how can someone miss you if you aren’t ever gone? You have to go on relationship blackout. Don’t answer his texts, don’t respond to his phone calls, and if a carrier pigeon shows up at your doorstep call animal control. If there is one thing men biologically and instinctively know how to do, it is to get something that they want. If he wants you, he WILL go and get you. You don’t need to leave bread crumbs because you are worried he will get lost. If you are the woman of his dreams, do you really think he is going to let you go because you didn’t answer his text? And if you aren’t the woman of his dreams, why are you settling? Statistically, you are a match for one out of every 7 people. Sure, there may be 6 bad dates to follow. But the man who would NEVER risk losing you, who will always come after you, is right around the corner. Stop getting drunk on watered down vodka cranberrys from Jimmys liquor Mart. Turn the corner. Sobriety brings clarity.
Also, stay quiet on social media. Stop posting about him and the break up, or what the last thing he said to you was. Stop saying how much better off you are, or posting selfies with song lyrics the two of you used to dance too. I forbid you to like his pictures or send that snap. Remember, often leaving is the only thing you can do to save the relationship, but if you do it wrong, don’t come to me with your clap back tweet. The knife cuts both ways. Your silence will become deafening. He will PANIC if one minute the person who shared all his deepest thoughts and dreams with is there, and then she is gone. Even if he was at first happy with the breakup, your silence will cause him to tailspin. He will question everything. The powerless girl he thought he was leaving, will become a goddess he can’t live without. He will start to worry that perhaps you have actually left, and may stay gone. It may take a few months, but if you go radio silent, he WILL show up at your door. And then my dear, it’s your move.
In the meantime, take some time to fix what is broken. What is causing you to need someone else so badly that you will take them even if it is just in pieces? You are worthy of attention, and love, and belonging. And you may discover that for yourself.
But first, you have to leave.
Heather Thompson Day is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Andrews University. She is the author of 5 Christian books including Life After Eden, available now. You can follow Heather on Twitter or IG at HeatherThompsonDay
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